Tiny Flowers

Stellated False Solomon Seal flower made from hot melt glue and an insect pin.

I have been working out the fine details of the Stellated False Solomon Seal wildflower.  I had to brainstorm a way to make the tiny flowers only 1/4″ across.  I am again coming up against the problem of translucency.  Translucency is important, it’s what makes a flower look like a flower.  Diorama foreground artists have typically used wax to make flowers and wax is a very good translucent solution-except when you get this small…Gay Malin, a recently retired preparator and artist from the Albany State Museum, taught me how to use a material called Elvax many years ago.  It is essentially hot melt glue in pellets.  It has all the translucency of wax but more resiliency and flexibility.  I melted some Elvax on a sheet of aluminum at about 300ºF and mixed in a wisp of white oil paint so it would remain translucent.  I then re-melted it (it cools very fast) into very thin whitish sheets that I peeled off the aluminum (pre-treated with vaseline).  I then used a scalpel and a metal ruler to slice off 1mm wide strips.  These were then cut into approx 3-4mm lengths.

1mm strip for petal making

I put a #1 insect pin in my vise.  I pick the elvax “petals” up with a forceps which is fun because they like to escape by springing out of the forceps onto the floor.  I use a wood burning tool that has a rheostat set at a low temperature and just touch the end of the “petal” to the insect pin to glue it in place.  After 6 petals, I add tubing to the insect pin and consolidate them into a cluster and I’ve got my flower.  I will heat another insect pin and use it to melt a spot at the middle of each to pull up tiny elvax stamens.  I’ve been telling people that this is the limit of my eyesight and patience for small work.

A cluster in the making.

Explore posts in the same categories: Preparing the Foreground

One Comment on “Tiny Flowers”

  1. Dorie Says:

    I’m impressed with these flowers and the technique !
    I’m going to bring in the book on the glass flowers
    by the Blauschkas ( father and son ) whose work is at
    the other Peabody Museum in Cambridge, Mass.


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